So, why exactly do we not do this?


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Nushif
November 13, 2010, 09:51 PM
I was sitting there just now, reloading and all that and was using my wee little tweezers to laboriously fit the small pistol primers into the miniscule opening and was wondering about this:

Why exactly are we not touching primers with our hands?

Here's my thought process:

- Tweezers are made of metal, and thus more likely to "set off" a primer than my fleshy fingers.

- Primers used to contain Mercury, which is bad JuJu. They don't anymore though.

- When handling a bullet, there is no danger in touching the primer, so unless I'm like ... poking at the interior of it, why is it dangerous when it's not in the bullet?

Aside from "Just don't do it" is there a real reason we're not supposed to touch loose primers with our dry and clean hands? (Dry and clean being the key terms here, of course.)

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esheato
November 13, 2010, 09:56 PM
All I hear is the don't do it crowd crowing about it.

I pick up dropped primers all the time and never have an issue.

In fact, I loaded nearly 3,000 rounds today and touched a whole bunch of them. I'm not worried in the least.

Walkalong
November 13, 2010, 10:06 PM
I handle primers all the time. If your hands are not dripping with motor oil, etc, you won't have a problem.

Pacsd
November 13, 2010, 10:13 PM
even if a guys hands are clean and dry there still a film of oil on yhour skin that can render the primer "no good" Secondly, I'm wondering why you don't have one of those tray type primer tools instead of messing around with tweezers?

Nushif
November 13, 2010, 10:29 PM
Tight finances is why ... but Hannukah is coming up!

esheato
November 13, 2010, 10:34 PM
Someone should run a test (not it! I have enough other loading projects happening) because it's silly to think that the oil from your fingers will render a primer useless when I can wash ammo (pistol and shotgun, I've done it myself) in the washing machine and it still fires.

IMHO, I think it's an old wives tale.

medalguy
November 13, 2010, 10:40 PM
May be, but everything I've read from all of the manufacturers warns against picking up primers with your fingers so I ASSUME (that word again) there's something to it. Never really tested it but then I like my ammo to go "boom" when I pull the trigger. Same reason I don't buy Remington .22 LR ammo any more. :rolleyes:

armoredman
November 13, 2010, 10:42 PM
A test was done, Box o Truth, IIRC, and it was proven, (short term at least), not to be true, sprayed directly with several penetrating oils. I handle primers when I have to, and I haven't had any misfires from it, and I fired some ammo two days ago I loaded two years ago, no issues. Doesn't mean there isn't a grain of truth in there, but generally speaking, in my direct experiance, not really a big deal.

esheato
November 13, 2010, 10:54 PM
BOT did do a test, but it was more of a "does oil seep into loaded cartridges" test.

Obviously, if you squirt oil directly into the open end of the primer it will kill it. But picking one up off the floor?

You should do what your conscience tells you to do....me? I don't worry about it.

noylj
November 13, 2010, 11:12 PM
1) manufacturer's are lawyered up and have insurance companies watching them
2) you could have rubbed your feet on the floor and picked up a static charge. When a spark forms between your finger and the primer, you might have a heart attack. When you picked up the metal tweezers, you "grounded" yourself.
3) Found a long time ago that water and oil do not always kill a primer. Never assume.
4) I have a hard time picking up a primer with my fingers. A pair of tweezers is easier for me. Maybe I need longer fingernails?

R.W.Dale
November 13, 2010, 11:25 PM
I handle almost every rifle primer I load (ram prime)

10 years and thousands of rounds downrange I've never had a primer ignition issue that wasn't traceable to sizing, seating or firearm issues.

It's an old wives tale. Think about it, it's not like you're pulling the anvil and pawing at the actual compound underneath

Hillbillyz
November 13, 2010, 11:55 PM
I'm with Krokus I've picked up every primer I've every loaded and never had an issue.

Mal H
November 14, 2010, 12:05 AM
I handle primers all the time with my fingers. I don't touch the anvil or squeeze them, etc., but just picking them up has never been a problem. I've never felt the need to use tweezers.

even if a guys hands are clean and dry there still a film of oil on yhour skin that can render the primer "no good"
You would have to show me proof of that, and I don't think that proof will be coming any time soon.

Primers are not the delicate little things some would have you believe. They should be handled with respect, especially in quantity, but they aren't fragile nor easily rendered useless.

Hondo 60
November 14, 2010, 12:26 AM
I've handled 1,000s of primers with no issues.
With my turret press I used to put every primer in the little primer loading thingy.
(good description, huh?)

Then I finally bought the riser to move the powder hopper up so it ain't banging the primer tray all the time.

James2
November 14, 2010, 12:37 AM
For many years I primed with one of those primer arms on the press. I put every primer into the little cup with my fingers. I never had a failure. I can't guess just how many primers I have loaded that way, but it is a bunch. Many thousands. FWIW Internet myth.

TH3180
November 14, 2010, 12:37 AM
Intresting thread, I had never heard handling primers is a problem. For me, I won't worry about it until I have a problem. I have a trend to drop some here and there.

Peakbagger46
November 14, 2010, 01:08 AM
I've handled a whole bunce (I use a single stage press with a ram prime for everything) and have never had a problem. I do wash and dry my hands first if they are sweaty, just to be safe.

rondog
November 14, 2010, 01:28 AM
You're not supposed to touch primers? OH MY GOD, I'M GOING TO GO BLIND!!!!! http://i18.photobucket.com/albums/b150/rinselman/smilies/fear.gif http://i18.photobucket.com/albums/b150/rinselman/smilies/runaway.gif

ArchAngelCD
November 14, 2010, 01:34 AM
I have never used tweezers when loading primers or anything else to do with primers.
- Tweezers are made of metal, and thus more likely to "set off" a primer than my fleshy fingers.
IMO you would have to work extremely hard to "set off" a primer with tweezers. Short of placing them on the back of the primer and striking them with a hammer I don't see how you could do it.

JimKirk
November 14, 2010, 09:25 AM
Forty plus years of reloading and many (I hate to even try to count) thousands of primers reloaded and my fingers touched each and every one of them! Some of the ammo has sat for over ten years and I've never had a primer misfire from handling the primer.

Jimmy K

Walkalong
November 14, 2010, 09:40 AM
Primers are not the delicate little things some would have you believe. They should be handled with respect, especially in quantity, but they aren't fragile nor easily rendered useless.
Yep, and they put sealant over the priming compound.

Mals best advise:

They should be handled with respect, especially in quantity

Remember you are handling an explosive, don't be stupid with them, and you'll be fine.

EddieNFL
November 14, 2010, 09:42 AM
Found a long time ago that water and oil do not always kill a primer. Never assume.

I learned that lesson the hard way.

I think it's a throwback to years ago when primers were not sealed as they are now. Much like the, "Don't tumble loaded ammo 'cause it will breakdown the powder."

woodsoup
November 14, 2010, 09:44 AM
even if a guys hands are clean and dry there still a film of oil on yhour skin that can render the primer "no good" Secondly, I'm wondering why you don't have one of those tray type primer tools instead of messing around with tweezers?
I just got through reading the warnings on 4 brands of primers from my stash. NOT ONE says not to handle them. They all warned of the potential lead hazard from firing them. All 4 say to throughly wash your hands after handling them. Use Proper ventilation when FIRING a firearm etc.

AGAIN, NO WARNING ABOUT MANUALLY HANDLING THEM OTHER THAN WASHING AFTER USE.
Wolf, Federal, CCI and Winchester brands.

The Bushmaster
November 14, 2010, 10:58 AM
You mean I'm not supposed to touch primers with my bare fingers? Now I have to go out and buy some tweezers. Won't be long and I'll have so much reloading equipment that I won't be able to get into my man cave...

crimsoncomet
November 14, 2010, 12:20 PM
I handle primers all the time. All of my rifle rounds are primed with the ram of the press. I don't think you need to worry about static charge. Just touch the bare metal of your press before handling the primers. I don't worry about this. I don't sit down while priming, nor do i have carpet in front of my bench. Like someone said up top, the companies have to cover there butts. Probably not from static charge and blowing up, but from primer dust getting on your hands. Then you can carry it to somewhere else in the house and it could ignite. Not probable, but built up primer dust can ignite. That is the only reason i could see the companies not wanting you to handle the primers.

redneck2
November 14, 2010, 12:31 PM
I suspect it's more from the lead content of the primers and lead poisoning issues.

snuffy
November 14, 2010, 01:58 PM
Probably not from static charge and blowing up, but from primer dust getting on your hands. Then you can carry it to somewhere else in the house and it could ignite. Not probable, but built up primer dust can ignite. That is the only reason i could see the companies not wanting you to handle the primers.

What dust???żż As walkalong said, the primers are sealed as the last step after the anvil is installed. What do you think causes the different colors? It's a laquer based sealant.

Now just how does some of the SOLID primer pellet get out from UNDER a coating of paint? Answer, it doesn't. Another internet reloading myth. Belongs right alongside the myth about skin oils de-sensitizing/killing primers.

I got tired of all the bunk about "primer dust. So I devised a test. My thinking was to vibrate some primers for a period of time to look for "dust". I originally wanted to leave them on top of a running vibratory tumbler for an hour. But the awful racket they made caused me to suspend the test after ten minutes. Results: NO DUST could be seen.

http://photos.imageevent.com/jptowns/arrow/websize/P2030122.JPG

Primers in the test are Winchester large rifle for standard loads.

http://photos.imageevent.com/jptowns/arrow/websize/P2030126.JPG

A strip of scotch tape to lift 20 out of their holes. NO DUST! There is evidence of some difference in the bottom of the pocket, caused by the anvil scrubbing the shine off the plastic. kind of a burnishing effect. Those primers were being shaken violently! If they were going to give off dust, they sure would have in this case!

Don't believe everything you hear. Validate, think it through, run it past the BS detector, or do a test like I did. Just don't pass it on without thought, perpetuating myths.

bds
November 14, 2010, 02:05 PM
I find coffee can lid to be the perfect primer handler. Dump a new tray of primers and transfer them to your press/hand primer tray by bending the lid. I have a small notch cut on the rim to pour primers through.

Cheap/easy and no touching by hand. :D

crimsoncomet
November 14, 2010, 02:17 PM
The" primer dust" is not an internet myth. The warning is in most reloading manuals. I do not believe it is 100% true, but it is there.

jcwit
November 14, 2010, 03:40 PM
The" primer dust" is not an internet myth. The warning is in most reloading manuals. I do not believe it is 100% true, but it is there.

There's alot of warnings in reloading manuals. Most firearm manufactures warn you not to use/shoot reloads. Not reloading but packages of peanuts warn you that they contain "peanuts". May not be a internet myth but a little over the top anyway.

I suspect it's more from the lead content of the primers and lead poisoning issues.


Probably, people are dropping like flies from the lead they get from picking up primers.

We have really turned into a nanny state.

ranger335v
November 14, 2010, 05:42 PM
"I think it's a throwback to years ago when primers were not sealed as they are now."

Sorta. The caution started real but, like a lot of things, it's hardly applicable today for a couple of reasons.

First, in the old days, pre 1980s maybe, almost everyone used a case lube pad loaded with what was basically STP (sold as case lube by Lyman, RCBS, etc.). It's really slick stuff but VERY sticky and hard to get off the fingers without some some sort of solvent. I used to keep a quart can of denatured alcohol and roll of paper towels on my bench just to clean my fingers after sizing. Still keep them on the bench but don't use that sticky stuff anymore so ... ? (Lord, thank you for Imperial die wax!)

Second, the primer pellets are much like wafers of dryed clay. Any skin oils would easily soak in and kill the mixture. Todays pellets are well protected. As a test, I put a full drop of STP on a small batch of belly-up primers. I then loaded and fired off a couple each day until they were all dead. It took a couple of days of that total soaking to kill the first one; took a full week of continued oil soaking to kill them all. It would have taken much less time to kill 'em in the old days.

The hazard of primer dust was also valid in the old - pre 1960s - days. The exposed clay-like primer pellets could, and some did, lose a few particles of explosive dust. Over time that dust could build up in priming tools, especially long auto feed tubes. Eventually it could cause a potentially serious health or vision hazard! Not much chance of that happening with currently made primers. Nor is it possible for any hazardous quanity of "lead" to get out!

I've been using two Lee Auto Prime tools and an Auto Prime 2 for well over 25 years now. With them, I touch a primer so seldom it wouldn't matter how much oil I may have on my fingers! (And I'm yet to break one of the tools, can't imagine why some people claim to break them in quanity lots. :neener: )

bds
November 14, 2010, 05:54 PM
people are dropping like flies from the lead they get from picking up primers.
So THAT'S what's happening to me?

Lead poisoning ... and I thought it was just old age and being out of shape ... :D

Walkalong
November 14, 2010, 06:50 PM
I used a hand primer by Sinclair (http://www.sinclairintl.com/.aspx/sid=70817/sku/Sinclair_Stainless_Priming_Tool) and handled every primer I seated in my 6PPC loads for Benchrest. I sweated a lot of details with those loads and was terribly OCD about them, but never worried about the primers.

Jesse Heywood
November 14, 2010, 06:50 PM
I wonder if it goes back to when primers contained mercury fulminate. Remember, mercury was that stuff we used to cover quarters with to make them shiny? And we would stick our finger in the vial for the barometer in physics lab.

jcwit
November 14, 2010, 08:18 PM
So THAT'S what's happening to me?

Lead poisoning ... and I thought it was just old age and being out of shape ...


I like that reply!


I used a hand primer by Sinclair and handled every primer I seated in my 6PPC loads for Benchrest. I sweated a lot of details with those loads and was terribly OCD about them, but never worried about the primers.


I still use a K & M primer and also have a couple of the old Lee priming tools that do use the tray. I keep them caliber specific so as not to wear out the threads.

Just the way I like to do it. Takes up more time so I have less time for the honey do list.

rogn
November 14, 2010, 09:19 PM
I started reloading back in the '50s and in those days as mentioned sealing of primers wasnt as efficient as it is now. My loading area was on a bench in the tool shed. My parents didnt like the thought of "explosives" in the house. As you might guess the shed wasnt airconditioned or heated. I saw some problems with case lube/RCBS. Youd get it on your fingers and wipe it off. But when you sweat the perspiration would float some residual lube off your fingers. Priming was on the press so you had to handle primers. Every so often youd have one that would fail. I always attributed this to the oil contamination. Back then when you had a bad load or crushed primer,a bit of kerosene or other light petrleum product would quickly deactivate a primer to percussion. However, dont toss em in a fire!! Dust was possible then, and if you think its impossible now, please give me your address so I can avoid your area.

FROGO207
November 15, 2010, 09:10 AM
I do touch them most of the time. I have had no (that's zero) problems to date with contaminated primers. I am thinking what I hear about wolf primers being bad were QC problems of not sealing them and they possibly fell apart. I will occasionally drop one on the floor, step on it several times looking for it, pick it out of my shoe tread when I start hearing it go click on the floor, then load in a round and when fired as a practice round will go bang. I think that as long as I don't look for dropped primers with a hammer or vacuum there will be no problems here.:D

sig220mw
November 15, 2010, 02:44 PM
When I first started loading back in the early 90's a friend told me to NEVER TOUCH THE PRIMERS. He said to use tweezers. I tried it had zero success and ended up dropping primers all over the place. I had a primer tray and getting a good hold of the primers with the tweezers was just nearly impossible so I started using my hands. I watched another friend reload for his rifle and he used his hands. I've been using my hands ever since and wash them before and after. No problems so far.

Cosmoline
November 15, 2010, 03:04 PM
Finger oil isn't going to effect ignition. Maybe there's a water issue but that's why they invented sealant.

As far as safety, the problem comes from some dummy handling 500 loose primers in his fist while smoking, napping flints and setting off bottle rockets.

parker51
November 15, 2010, 07:03 PM
Even Lee says to load the primers with your fingers into the primer guide if you don't have a Lee Safety Prime primer feeder. (http://www.leeprecision.com/cgi-data/instruct/90064.pdf) They do say to keep your fingers clean and to use only their brand of resizing lube but by the time I seat the primers on my reloads they have just went through the tumbler a second time to remove any traces of resizing lube.

I've only been reloading for about 15 years now and use my fingers for loading a RCBS hand priming tool. During this time I have had 2 fail to fire, both fired on the second strike so I assume I didn't have the primers seated deep enough. I probably go through a couple thousand primers a year and couldn't imagine trying to handle each one with a pair of tweezers.

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